A while ago I did one of those online Myers-Briggs personality tests (this one, I believe) and my result was ISFJ: Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging. The ISFJ is characterized as introverted, empathetic, hard-working, practical, timid, sensitive, insecure, intolerant, easily embarrassed, prone to jumping to conclusions, fearful of confrontations, and needy.

I was reading and nodding in recognition until I got to the part that said ISFJs are likely to have beautifully furnished homes and are extremely good interior decorators. Ha. Ha ha ha! MY CLUMPS OF ARTISTICALLY-PLACED DOG HAIR, LET ME SHOW YOU THEM.

So I don’t know about that part, but the rest sounded uncomfortably familiar. It was kind of depressing, to be honest—I mean, not like I didn’t have any self-awareness about these things, but seeing it all laid out in a tidy description was sort of . . . well, I don’t know, I suppose it would be nicer to read something chirpy like “You have an unrelenting zest for life! You love people! You would make a fantastic leader! Your thirst for adventure is eclipsed only by your positive outlook and self-confidence!”

Instead, I got: “You’re kind of a whiny, reclusive doormat. Ideal career choices include martyrdom and anonymous internet commenter.”

Have you ever done one of these tests, and if so, did it ring true? And do you think it’s ever possible to change your basic personality type? I don’t mean fundamentally alter who you are as a person, but tweak your settings to dial yourself a bit closer to the sort of personality you tend to admire? Or do you think we are who we are, and any forced behavior is simply a surface change?

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KKF
KKF
11 years ago

(Turns out I’m an INTJ today. Go figure.)

Hawkeyegirl
11 years ago

I’m always right on the line between Introvert and Extrovert. For example, this time I’m ENTP with a 1% stress on the E part, sometimes I’m INTP. So in other words, yes, I think it can and does change. I know I lean more towards the emotional end of the spectrum at certain time and can be super cold and logical at others. Active effort to change makes a difference, I think, but so does mood, time in your life, time of the month, etc.

kinak
11 years ago

I’m an INFJ. I think people can try to trick themselves into behaving differently, but that ruse will eventually wear off and the true self will re-emerge.

I sometimes wish I could be different than I always am, but when I discover myself being awfully ‘I’ and ‘J’, well, there’s just no escaping it. I can only try to be more extroverted and bat away the judgmental thoughts for so long. I guess it says something, though, that I can take steps outside of myself, even if they’re only temporary. Still trying to figure out who I’ll be when I grow up, I guess :)

Bridget
11 years ago

I took one of those tests about 10 years ago and was an ESTJ, and I took one a few months ago and was an ISTJ – so yes, I think you can change your fundamental personality type.

I don’t know if I took the same one you did or not, but the one I took didn’t have many nice things to say about my personality type either – not spontaneous, not adventurous, dependable, punctual (which I’m not). Yes, apparently I pretty much just like to sit at home and pet my cats, thanks.

Gigi
11 years ago

Yeah, I’ve taken those tests. And every single time I end up with a different result. Every. Single. Time.

Granted some of it’s always the same – but the rest of it changes depending on the mood I’m in – either that or I have a multiple personality. The jury’s still out on that.

Carrie @ Who Knew
11 years ago

What the what? Every time you show pictures of your house I think how beautiful it looks and have actually considered stealing your look.

ABDPBT
11 years ago

Yep. INTJ. I had the same reaction as you, yep, yep, yep, yep, oh yes — wait. This is depressing. In particular: “While they are capable of caring deeply for others (usually a select few), and are willing to spend a great deal of time and effort on a relationship, the knowledge and self-confidence that make them so successful in other areas can suddenly abandon or mislead them in interpersonal situations.” Yeah, that. LOL.

Sunny
Sunny
11 years ago

ENFJ in the hizzy. I’m not sure, but it seems to be telling me that I can be a real asshole when I’m dancing on the table with a lamp shade on my head.

Hannah Christine
Hannah Christine
11 years ago

First of all, I want to say this: I LOVE Meyers-Briggs, and I personally see a lot of value in it. A Meyer’s Briggs score is not a death sentence; it’s just a measure of your personal tendencies on four particular typologies. There is no “bad type.” It’s not a horoscope, it cannot tell you your future. What it can do is tell you about certain strengths that you may want draw on in making decisions about your future and in interacting with others. It also can tell you of certain weaknesses that you might need to be careful of, and how to work with those. And with that in mind…let’s talk about what the letters mean.

WHAT THEY LETTER’S MEAN ACCORDING TO ME:

Extrovert (E) vs. Introvert (I): An Extrovert is someone who gains most of their energy from being with people. And Introvert is someone who gains most of their energy from being by themselves. This doesn’t mean that Introverts can’t be outgoing, and that Extrovert’s can’t be by themselves, it just means that their primary mode of recharging is either being with people, or being alone. What that means is, Introverts can definitely have friends and be with people and be successful in social situations, but that they need to be aware of their need to also have plenty time by themselves in order to not feel overwhelmed by that. Conversely, Extroverts can spend time by themselves, and in fact need to remember to do that from time to time, but when choosing a career they probably need to not pick something that puts them all alone in an office unless they want to go crazy.

Intuitive (N) vs. Sensing (S): This has to do with the way you interpret data. It’s honestly the most confusing to me of all the letters. Basically, an N interprets data in terms of BIG PICTURE. They tend to work in a terms of theories and possibilities. They are future oriented and like to learn new things, and often get bored when they have to do the same thing over and over. N’s can struggle when minute details are important. S’s on the other hand, are ALL detail, all the time. S’s often take longer with a concept, because they learn detail-by-detail, fact-by-fact until they see the whole picture. Once they have all the details however, they are SET. (Where as N’s can jump to conclusions too quickly.) S’s tend to like precision and using what they have learned over and over. Where N’s like innovation and trying new things, S’s like established method, because they know that they work. N’s often tend toward fantasy and living in the future, S’s tend toward reality, and living in the now. Both are extremely valuable.

Feeling (F) vs. Thinking (T): This has to do with how you make decisions. Feelers make decisions based on how they feel about things; Thinkers make decisions based on what they think. Pretty straightforward, but don’t worry, I have more to say about it! Being an F does not mean that you are irrational, it means that after you have thought/analyzed/talked out/whatever method of decision making you use, you will then make the decision that you feel the best about. A T will consider/analyze/talk out/blah blah blah, and then make the decision that makes the most logical sense to them. It doesn’t mean that Thinkers are heartless and unmoved by emotions, and it doesn’t mean that Feelers are illogical emotional wrecks; it just means that is the strongest force in how you make choices.

Perceiving (P) vs. Judging (J): This is the one people often get hung up on feeling badly about, J’s, I’m talking to you. HEAR THIS: Judging in Meyer’s Briggs has to do with how you approach life, NOT what you think of other people. J’s tend to be decisive, goal oriented and organized. P’s are Flexible, Adaptive, and like to keep their options open. Here’s the best way I can describe it: A J is someone who likes order. They feel most comfortable things have a scheduled time, and they keep to that schedule. A Perceiver, does not like schedules, and feels confined by them. P’s like to have freedom and spontaneity, and are most comfortable keeping things loose and flexible. An example: If a J schedules a time, say one o’clock on a Friday to pay their bills, and a friend calls to invite them to lunch, a J would say, “Oh sorry, I can’t right now, can we do tomorrow?” Because the J has plans. Now, a P would be all: “Oh sure! Meet you in ten!” because the P has the same plans, but feels no qualms about putting that off till later. Now, it doesn’t mean that J’s never can be spontaneous, or that P’s can’t stick to a schedule, it just means their primary tendency is towards one or the other. Judgers: DON’T FEEL BAD ABOUT BEING A J. BEING A J IS SUCH A GOOD THING! IT WILL MAKE YOUR WHOLE LIFE AS AN ADULT SO. MUCH. EASIER! Trust me, take it from a P.

Now, a word on whether or not you can change your personality: Maybe. People do sometimes shift in their lives from one letter to another as they go through major life changes, but for the most part, most of us stay the same in our typologies (the letters.) Honestly, this is not a bad thing. Like I said earlier, MBTI can tell you a lot about your strengths, and also about your possible pitfalls, and what you can do about them. For example, a P needs to know that within the strength of flexibility comes the pitfall of flakiness, and work to make sure that doesn’t become a hindrance in their lives. A J needs to know that within the strength of order and responsibility comes the pitfall of stringency and stubbornness, and they will have to work to make sure that doesn’t become a problem for them.

Final notes: I like humanmetrics as an online version of MBTI, but I don’t like their descriptions of the typologies. I much prefer this set: http://www.personalitypage.com/portraits.html
Here is ISFJ: http://www.personalitypage.com/html/ISFJ.html

The only thing I don’t like about this set is I feel it’s slightly biased against Thinkers, and focuses on negatives a little too much. But I’m a feeler, so I may be more sensitive than a thinker! And finally, while the online versions are fun and informative, they really can’t take the place of the actual Meyer’s Briggs, and a meeting with a real live career counselor. Maybe check with you’re college and see if they offer that assessment. I’m sure they do. All colleges do.

Hannah Christine
Hannah Christine
11 years ago

AND! Ooh, this important: We are all both. You are both Introverted and Extroverted, Sensing and Intuitive, Thinking and Feeling, Judging and Percieving. We all possess all of these qualities, and we all must use them all in our lives. MBTI tells you about preference. OF COURSE an introverted person can succeed in a job where they talk to people all day, they just might have to be alone for an hour or two when they get home. I as a Perceiver do not get a pass from being on time to meetings and can show up for work whenever I feel like it, it just means that I would prefer it if I could :) You can be whoever and whatever you want, you are in charge of your choices…but oh it’s helpful to understand your innate preferences.

Kristin
11 years ago

I am just like you, INFJ. And nope, don’t think it’s remotely changeable but I am OK with that.

MRW
MRW
11 years ago

I have done them several times – the first time in HS – and almost always come out INFJ. However, over the years I find that my preferences for almost all portions of it except J have waxed and waned. I remain a strong J no matter where I am in my life, but my I, N, and F factors have changed over time depending on whether I was in a job that required me to be extroverted rather than introverted or I was doing more rational work rather than emotional work. I love the Myers-Briggs stuff mainly because it finally helped me to understand (in my 20s) that my mom wasn’t acting the way she was just to drive me insane, it was because she is an insane ESTJ and could be harsh without realizing it. It was a relationship changer for me just understanding her.

H
H
11 years ago

ISFJ here as well. I think you can tweak your personality, but you are who you are.

sarah
11 years ago

I took the test (thanks for posting the link!) and I got INFJ. I think it’s very similar to your result. I read the description as complimentary. Click on some of the other links to see other famous people with the same results as you. I’m not sure that you can really change your personality (not that you would want to — because you’re totally awesome), but maybe there are individual things that you could work on if you’re unhappy with them.

Alissa
Alissa
11 years ago

I don’t think anyone with small kids can have a beautifully furnished home…? That doesn’t speak ill of your personality, it just means you’re smart enough not to have nice things they can terrorize and ruin, yes?

Stacey
Stacey
11 years ago

I’m always an INTJ (the Scientist), this time with 100% on the Judging – yikes. Ironically enough, I am a scientist, so it turns out I made the right career choice.

I was nodding my head and agreeing with everything, until I read that INTJs have a tendency “to become arrogant and elitist” and “when under a great deal of stress, may become obsessed with mindless repetitive, sensate activities, such as over-drinking”. Wow…..isn’t that complimentary?!

shelagh
shelagh
11 years ago

hello, sister ISFJ…I’m right there with you and it’s perfectly nice and cosy here, don’t you think?

Mandy
Mandy
11 years ago

I don’t buy the Myers Briggs stuff, but I totally believe this:
http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

We had to do it at work for a leadership training…it was dead on, and not depressing.

Elizabeth
Elizabeth
11 years ago

The professor in charge of the Honors program at the university I attended was OBSESSED with Meyers Briggs. I took that thing a million times during college, and said professor constantly attributed all life decisions her students made to their MBTI.

I believe someone mentioned this earlier, but what I found was that the MBTI tested for what you PREFER, not what you actually ARE. There are a lot of questions using the word “enjoy,” “like,” “believe,” etc. While I may enjoy things a certain way, I may not see to it that they happen that way. While I may have preferred quiet and solitude, the responsibilities that I took on dictated different behavior at times.

So take it all with a grain of salt, or better yet, throw it out the window and don’t worry about it.

ccr in MA
11 years ago

I took it a few years ago, as part of post-layoff career counseling. I believe I was INTJ. Though I was near the middle on some of them, I was so strongly “I” that Extrovert might as well have been on Mars. Introvert all the way, baby!

Cat hair and dust makes tumbleweeds. You’d love my house!

Rachel
11 years ago

For my job we had to do what was called a TKI assessment that analyzed our personalities and specifically how we dealt with conflict. There were five categories- compete, collaborate, compromise, accomodate, and avoid. Most people have a little bit of each characteristic but tend to favor one or two more than the others.

Turns out I am a 98% accomodator. In other words, I’m a freaking doormat. And I totally realize it now too. It drives me crazy that I never stand up for myself or even give an opinion.

The thing is, now that I realize that I accomodate all the time, I can now try to fight that natural inclination in times that I should stand up for myself. It isn’t easy, and I don’t know that we can change our core personalities, but I do think we can change our behaviors if we put the effort forth.

Carrie @ Who Knew
11 years ago

Also, I definitely believe we can change who we are. People do it all the time. The problem is that it is an extremely slow process. The same as with changing how you eat or developing an exercise routine. You take one little step and do it until it’s easy and then add another one.

I use this for everything. I even have a graph. And the goals are ridiculously tiny. Things like Organize something for 10 minutes every day. This is how I workout, how I improve my relationships, my work, everything. It’s slow but, in my experience, it’s been very successful.

Sarah
Sarah
11 years ago

I am pretty sure that it’s a recognized Myers-Briggs fact that YES, you can change (even significantly). That’s why you’re supposed to retake the test every so often. I took it years ago and my J was high – and it was true, punctuality etc were of SUPREME importance to me and I could be a jerk about it to my friends. Years later, after I had lived in a place where nothing is on time (a second-world country), I’m so relaxed about time that I hardly wear a watch anymore. Ok, so it’s a silly example, but for me it was a big switch in a major portion of my personality that I didn’t like – and now I think I would likely test differently (haven’t done it recently, but should; I suspect I’m still a J but the being-a-jerk-about-it part is waaaaay lessened).

Sarah
Sarah
11 years ago

Just as an interesting (to me, at least) follow-up: I did just take it again and I’m still scoring as an INTJ, same as years ago. But I still maintain that I’ve softened some of the harder edges of that personality type (which, at root, is dead on for me).

Bianca
Bianca
11 years ago

So funny how my job really kind of affects the results. In a challenging work environment, I’ve always come out ENFP and in a work environment that I’m super comfy in but not necessarily challenged, I come out INFJ.

Weird!

Lesley
Lesley
11 years ago

It’s hard to picture you as introverted because you’re extroverted (no holds barred) here.

I hate to admit this, but since I’m an anonymous Internet commenter and no one can see me blush…

My astrological chart rang truer than anything. Particularly this “North Node of the Moon” stuff. Jan Spiller’s book New Moon Astrology described me to a T. I use it for the affirmations and higher conscious awareness.

Lesley
Lesley
11 years ago

oops, the book is Astrology for the Soul.

Maria
11 years ago

I’m an ESFJ with a very high strength percentage on the E and the J. So I guess that makes me loud and bitchy? Awesome.

Lara
11 years ago

Mine says I’m ENFP, although I did it in a hurry and am not positive about all my answers but I’ll take it for now, just for this description:

“They can be intellectual, serious, all business for a while, but whenever they get the chance, they flip that switch and become CAPTAIN WILDCHILD, the scourge of the swimming pool, ticklers par excellence.”

CAPTAIN WILDCHILD, the scourge of the swimming pool. Wicked.

Lara
11 years ago

Also, I just noticed that the person who wrote that description is named “Joe Butt” and that pretty much flipped my switch.

Kelly
Kelly
11 years ago

I’m an ISFJ too! I’d say its pretty accurate. At least we are in good company with Mother Teresa.

L
L
11 years ago

I’m an IFJS too and I totally related to your post the other day about friendships etc.

I think its pretty accurate. Often i wish I was more outgoing, outspoken, etc. Like you, I feel more comfy emailing/writing than calling people.

I’m going to go crawl back in my shell now…

Beth
Beth
11 years ago

I’ve always found that test to be pretty dead on, I’m an INTJ: Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging.

Honestly, I think it fits me. But I admit that I do have to try to reach beyond my stay at home, introverted persona in order to meet people and form relationships. The internet is good for that. I can come and go as I please, but still connect with people.

Shawna
Shawna
11 years ago

I have typically come in at INTJ in these tests, though the I is sometimes an E and the N is sometimes an S, depending on the test since both are borderline.

I have a friend who is strongly INTJ and she puts a lot of stock in these tests; I find them merely interesting where she regards them as a clear map of how to understand people.

yaya
11 years ago

Someone may have mentioned this above but the Enneagram is an awesome test/guide. My mom used to lead workshops and they were the most hilarious things because they were so true it was sad! They would do this whole ‘getting ready to go to a party’ scenerio and act it out with all the personality types and it was just so true it was painfully funny. Yes I have done these tests and on the E-gram I am a 2, Helper and when you read the section about all your ‘short comings/negatives’ I seriously wanted to curl up in a ball and wither away, that section made me feel horrible (and it was true, very true for me & my personality) and then I asked my mom for examples of people I knew who were also 2’s and that just made it worse because these were people I NEVER wanted to be like. BUT then you read your positives and how you can be if you grow & work on your strengths etc…and it feels great and is inspiring…Mother Teresa is a 2….so I felt better, kinda :-)
http://www.enneagraminstitute.com/

H
H
11 years ago

I forgot to mention, as a fellow ISFJ, that the part about a beautifully furnished home and good interior decorator is clearly NOT me, in any way. I can’t even IMAGINE anyone ever describing me as such. So, I don’t know what to make of that but I might, just might, be able to artistically arrange a few clumps of dog hair.

lisa
lisa
11 years ago

martyrdom and anonymous commenter– that made me laugh!

I do think you can modify your personality, I think some of the things you listed (timid, sensitive, introverted) are just a matter of pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. Way easier said than done but it does get easier the more you do it I think.

Lucrezia
11 years ago

I got INFJ. I’ve already forgotten what it means lol.

Jana
Jana
11 years ago

Combine your Myers-Briggs result with the StrengthsFinder 2.0 assessment. I use this combination with all of my employees. MBTI = self-awareness; StrengthsFinder = when you ‘play to your strengths’, your job/life/whatever is more enjoyable/effortless, etc.

SKL
SKL
11 years ago

I am an INTJ and it’s very true. It’s also very rare, which explains a lot. If I remember correctly, the INTJ’s motto is “Always room for improvement.”

I’ve always loved tests of all kinds, especially personality tests. I tend to wind up at one extreme or another. It’s fun and it’s nice to think there is someone (or some computer) who can define me and make sense of me, which is not an easy task for mere humans.

I have changed over the years. Mainly I have become more and more accepting of who I am and how others are. I used to be almost afraid of “people,” but now I think they are really cool to study and even bullshit with, most of the time. I will never be charismatic or gregarious, and I’m fine with that. Like I told my kids today, animals love me, so I must be good deep down; and besides, today my daughter said I’m her boyfriend and she’s going to marry me. So how bad can I really be?

Anne
Anne
11 years ago

I’m a INFJ too! We should be BFF’s…but I won’t call, and neither will you. Humph.

Karl
Karl
11 years ago

I have to swim against the tide here, I guess. I’ve taken those things 3 or 4 times and each time it comes up with a different answer. I don’t think I’ve changed that much!

I’m pretty skeptical of these things. I remember a psych class in college where we all took some sort of test (I forget what exactly). The “analysis” results were handed out two weeks later and we were asked whether we thought the results were accurate. Everyone except me and one other person said yes, they were accurate.

Turns out that everyone got the SAME analysis result, and simply read into it what they wanted or expected to hear.

Cara
Cara
11 years ago

I don’t know that you can *purposefully* change your personality type, but I know for a fact that events in your life can cause your personality to change.

I used to be a total doormat with zero self esteem when I was married to my first husband (which is how I wound up married to him in the first place). A series of events led me to the realization that he was/is an asshole and it gave me the courage to leave.
After that, it was amazing how much my personality changed without me really having to do anything.

I highly suggest the book, “The Hero Within” by Carol Pearson. She describes six archetypes that most all people have within them somewhere and how to recognize them in yourself and others. Sometimes just realizing that you are how you are or that someone else is how they are helps you learn to deal with yourself or them better. Wow, that was a confusing sentence.

wm
wm
11 years ago

I once read something about the strongest parts of the personality being almost impossible to change. The elements more toward the middle are more possible. I also read somewhere that it can be more productive to focus on making use of the strengths of your personality type (everyone has them) rather than trying to correct the perceived weaknesses.

Melissa
Melissa
11 years ago

So I’m ISTJ.
67% Introverted, 12% Sensing, 1% Thinking, 67% Judging
I guess I agree with that, I’m a quiet judger apparently. Sounds sort of awful, but it is what it is I guess. I’m a little offended i’m only 1% thinking :)

Redbecca
Redbecca
11 years ago

I’ve taken the test a couple of times, and the answers have changed a bit in terms of their percentages over the years – I’m an INFP and I used to be an “I” so far to the end of the scale I was almost off it. That was high school and over 20 years ago (crap, I can’t believe I just typed that). I’m still an INFP, but I’ve noticed over the years that the percentages have changed quite a bit. I’m more towards the middle of the range on almost every one of them, particularly the “I.” Do I think it is possible to change? Not at the true core of you. Socializing will always be an exhausting experience for me. It is why I don’t have a lot of close friends and don’t go out much. However, folks at work would never think in a million years that I’m an introvert. I’ve learned to be social in smaller group settings. Large crowds still overwhelm me.
There are tasks that I have to do at work and at home that aren’t my strong side, but I’ve learned to flex those underdeveloped muscles, and I think that is what has brought me more to the “middle” of the road in terms of scoring percentages. So we all have our reflexive “core” preferences, but that doesn’t mean we always have to go with them. Like anything else, it can be learned; it just won’t be your preferred way of doing things.
But I agree with PPs: don’t focus on the perceived weaknesses, but rather focus on the strengths. When you are at peace with your personality, you and those around you are going to be a lot happier.

Kate
Kate
11 years ago

I recall my psychology major friend in college doing a project showing that most people, when given a personality description after answering a few questions, immediately agree it sounds like them- the catch was that she never changed the description, ever. You might find that some other personality descriptions resonate with you too -maybe even your ‘ideal’ personality. Who knows? I doubt anyone ever fits perfectly into a box.

Redbecca
Redbecca
11 years ago

Oh, and I forgot to mention that when I took the test the first time and read the results, I took them to my parents and said “You want to know what is in my head? What to know how to deal with me? Here you go. They’ve nailed it perfectly.” Things got a little easier on the home front after that. They stopped pushing me to join clubs and stuff!

Kendra
Kendra
11 years ago

I’m an ISFJ, too — and apparently we’re in good company here, judging from the notes. =) It’s interesting to think about how my life circumstances of the past few years affected the way I answered questions — I’ve been kind of isolated, and my career path became a career dead-end. Four years ago, I might have come out as a different type. Still introverted, though, definitely, but with stronger leadership tendencies, I bet.

Lawyerish
11 years ago

I can’t remember what I was the last time I took one of these (I’m going to follow that link and take it again now!), but I know that I’ve taken it a bunch of times in my life and I’ve gotten different results, if not every time then at least part of the time. So I’m not sure what that says about whether one’s personality is changeable, but it suggests to me that we can be slightly different people depending on our circumstances.

I don’t know if you can fundamentally change who you are, but I definitely believe that altering your behavior can, over time, lead to somewhat changed tendencies — sort of a “fake it til you make it” theory.

For example, I am (or was) by nature a fairly unassertive, conflict-avoiding person, but since I became a litigator I have had to develop — how should I put this? — a fairly ironclad pair of cojones just to get by in the profession. Sometimes it has made me sweat and want to throw up to have to be combative and argumentative, but it’s become so much more natural to me over ten years of practice that I think at some level I’ve actually changed myself in that regard.

On the other hand, my lifelong abhorrence of the telephone appears to be something that will never change.